VoCoVo Article by Louise Abbs – Key Account Manager
Store losses are rising. UK shops reported an overall increase in shoplifting by 7% over the last four years. Police figures show an increase in reported incidents from 72,000 in 2012 to over 78,000 in 2018.
The security risk to staff on the UK high street is changing. We’ll look at why the threat has risen and examine a series of ways in which stores can equip and empower colleagues to deal with increasing volumes of in-store losses.
Why is the threat to staff changing?
Most UK retailers have stripped back security, largely due to cost. 150,000 retail jobs were lost in 2018, which understandably impacted security. Guards have been reduced across most UK stores, and in some large outlets have been replaced with facial recognition cameras or CCTV.
Will a central camera system work? In shops that cannot offer physical protection, then this may be a more secure option. Monitoring can result in more prosecutions, which also deters thieves.
The British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey (March 2019) reported a 32% rise in customer theft over the last twelve months, amounting to £663m worth of goods. This trend is worrying for staff in particular.
So the fact remains, the high street is less safe. The majority of retailers are running on the tightest budgets possible. Stripped staffing and reduced guard visibility has resulted in a bigger degree of vulnerability both on the high street and in retail parks.
Theft varies from common shoplifting to a more targeted, forceful approach. Whether or not the theft is for a thrill or as part of a gang activity, it can be incredibly frightening for staff to deal with.
In some shops, theft is a daily occurrence. Smaller outlets with fewer staff, for example petrol stations, feel particularly vulnerable. What can retailers do about this?
What retailers can do about rising theft
One of the best deterrents to shoplifting is staff visibility and staff communication. Being able to communicate discreetly can prevent some crimes. In scenarios where staffing is reduced or very low, quick and confidential communication between staff can boost morale and improve colleague’s ability to react to theft safely.
In some shopping centres it’s possible to link with security members across a certain radius, sharing guards across multiple stores. However, for the majority of high street shops this isn’t possible. How can we address rising theft without a security presence in store?
One way is to empower staff. Although increasing staff numbers may not be an option, visibility is key. Encouraging staff to communicate with each other across the front and back of stores provides helpful support, and can bring added manpower if the situation requires it.
We understand how challenging it is in the UK retail environment. VoCoVo work with the UK and Europe’s biggest brands to ensure their staff are empowered through communication systems that are discreet and effective.
Get in touch with me today to find out how we can help you stop theft in its tracks.